Camping in the Mountains

After months of limiting ourselves to the borders of Greater Cape Town, we decided to go for a camping trip to the Overberg. The planning took most of a week, and for one night we ended up taking a lot of stuff. This is normal, of course, because –apart from food- the same basic things are needed whether one chooses to go away for one night or one week. We wanted to check out the village of Greyton, which according to its internet brochure, is advertised as the Jewel of the Overberg, and a true country retreat. We also wanted to visit its Saturday market, where REAL farm products are sold. Although we were fully prepared by Thursday evening, we almost cancelled the trip at the last second because the weather forecast predicted a massive heat wave over the interior of the Western Cape. Later Ron decided that we might as well go, because it might be better to let the heat catch us outdoors than trapped indoors in the dusty apartment.







We started out on Friday morning after breakfast and in time for Robert’s morning nap. This was great because he went to sleep immediately in the car, and woke up two hours later as we arrived to the Campsite in Greyton. The village is really tiny, with one tarred main street. The rest are oak-lined mud lanes, with many beautiful old houses surrounded by lush gardens. The mountains give a dramatic backdrop to the scenery, towering over the village which lies literally at their feet. The same mountains are capped with snow during the winter. Later, the family who looks after the camp ground told us that the place gets extremely cold and frosty in the winter. There is a river close to the campground, and apparently two years ago, it flooded the surrounding grounds (and the house of the wardens). It gets really rough out here by the look of things. The inhabitants of the village though are mostly wealthy old retirees who can enjoy country life without having to succumb to the hardship of eking out a living.







 As we pitched our tent, and explored the basic campground, we were shocked to find out that the water supply in the village had a brownish tinge. I did drink some of it before this fact became evident and it tasted fine. Fortunately we had enough drinking water to last us for a day or so, and we bought another bottle of water at the shop.

Our green and blue tent was pitched up under the pine trees, and there was sufficient shade to shelter us from the sun. We also had the benefit of the cool breeze from the mountain, so it did not feel that hot. However, it was hot during our walk on the only main street in the village, but Robert was very good in the stroller and we were able to do our sight-seeing in peace. Later we hung out around camp, Ron went for a swim in the river, and we had our meal of pre-prepared pasta with tuna and canned sauce.

Robert enjoyed lying in the tent and exploring the texture of its fabric, the zippers, the ties and all the other strange stuff inside. As darkness fell we did not have any problems getting him to sleep on an improvised mattress of towels. We weren’t so lucky, we had to make do with the sleeping bags on the hard ground, and no pillows. It wasn’t the most comfortable bedding. During the night Robert woke up for a feed, this is rather unusual, but perhaps he was dehydrated and thirsty from his adventures during the day.

On Saturday we visited the market, and Robert got to socialize with many grannies and grandpas. I was impressed with the quality of products at the market. Everything was really homemade and organic : Cheese, lemonade, bakes, yoghurt, feta cheese, and even labneh (balls of dehydrated yoghurt with herbs, preserved in olive oil). We had a treat of pancakes with lemon curd, and bought a small wheel of cheddar. Around noon we started our drive back and this time we took what we thought will be the long scenic route on the West Coast. This was considerably longer, with portions of un-tarred roads that were hard on the car. Robert slept most of the time, and awoke only briefly as we were having lunch near Betty’s Bay. We were driving during the worst heat of the day, and at times the temperature gauge soared to 38 degrees (for outside heat). As we were heading for the final stretch of road towards Gordon’s Bay, I was getting extremely worried about Robert’s continued lethargy. We found the first available parking in Gordon’s Bay and I fished the little one out of his car seat. He was thoroughly wet and completely limp; it gave me a horrible fright for a couple of seconds until he opened his very sleepy eyes. I changed his drenched diaper quickly while he was still waking up, and then fed him for almost twenty minutes. He stayed awake but calm for the rest of the way home.

The apartment was a furnace when we arrived, and we got very little sleep that night. It was easily the hottest night we experienced in all our years in South Africa. The trip could have been termed a success, if Ron did not catch some stomach bug. He thinks it is either something carried by the flies in the campground or the brown water we used for brushing teeth.